Christmas School–Epiphany

On Thursday I had to take one last opportunity to add a few special activities to our regular school day, before we said goodbye to the Christmas season.

We started the day with stockings. Because we had spent so much time learning about Christmas in Italy (including the La Befana legend), I thought it would be fun to have a few small things in the stockings to wake up to on Epiphany morning, as Epiphany is the traditional Christmas-time gift-giving day in Italy. Plus, I was able to take advantage of the Target after-Christmas clearance, so it was also an inexpensive surprise!

In school, we took a short break from our regular work to make Epiphany stars. I found patterns for four, five, six and eight point stars, and Turkey and Bunny colored some, covered some in foil, and glittered some others. They’re all different, and all so pretty hanging from the ceiling of the schoolroom!

We dug out our La Befana stick puppets, and Turkey and Bunny took turns telling the legend. It was really interesting to hear how they embellished the story, and just how different their stories were from each other. They both did a really good job of remembering the story, which was good, since it’s already been over a month since we read the legend in the first place! Time sure does go by fast, especially at Christmastime!

We finished the Epiphany segment of our school day by reading The Visit of the Wise Men. This is a nice book from CPH–the story isn’t anything new, but the illustrations are beautiful. I also appreciate that the book gives a fairly realistic look at what kind of men the wise men were (not kings!). It was also a good springboard for discussion about how Epiphany reminds us that Jesus came for *all* people, not only the Jews. I appreciate any Christmas book that doesn’t gloss over the reason baby Jesus was born, but reminds readers (even children), that the Baby in the manger is the same Man who died for each one of us.

One Last Time

For one last time this Christmas season, the stockings have been filled (thank you Target after-Christmas clearance!), a special treat has been baked (it wouldn’t seem like a holiday without Pillsbury Funfetti!), and we will have one last day of “Christmas School” (complete with one last craft and story).

Epiphany signals the end of our Christmas celebrations, but for one more day, we can give gifts, joyfully say “Merry Christmas!” and enjoy our decorations and Christmas music!

Another Christmas Tradition

Every year on Christmas Eve, after the children are in bed and the presents placed under the tree, Ryan and I play my favorite board game–Ticket to Ride: Christmas Edition. OK, it’s actually called Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, but the game is so pretty and Christmas-y, with holly and snow on the board and cards, and what I’m guessing (based on the geography of the game) is Julinisse on the box cover. This is the only time of year we get out this version of Ticket to Ride, and I look forward to it just as I do everything else that has to do with Christmas!

The “Pick Out Dinner”

Having a smorgasbord of appetizers on Christmas Eve has become a family tradition, quite by accident. The one year I was thinking about not doing it, Turkey and Bunny protested (loudly!), and I realized that this is probably their favorite meal of the year. I always try to have a few things every person will enjoy, and the children all get to “pick out” what they want–no one is required to try anything they don’t want to, and if they don’t like something, they don’t have to finish it. Of course, I make enough food for a family twice our size, so we’ll be eating appetizers for quite a while, but it’s a special family tradition that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

Christmas School–Day Fifteen

Today was the end of Christmas school. One last story to read, a review of the countries we learned about (and all of their varied Christmas traditions), one last project to complete, and the big finale of A Christmas Carol.

Our final Christmas story was from The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories called “Christmas Every Day.” This was a cute story in which a child imagined what it would be like if was Christmas Day all year long. The end results of the imagining were not good, and in the end, she realized that the reason Christmas is so special is because it only comes around once a year. As much as I love Christmas, it was a good reminder that like everything, Christmas has its season.

To review our “Christmas Around the World” activities, I started by asking Turkey and Bunny what countries we had learned about. Each time they named one, I asked them how to say Merry Christmas in that country. We then decorated a sign with that saying–using lots of glitter (after all, you can’t have Christmas school without covering everything, including yourself, in copious amounts of glitter at least once!). As we glittered (Turkey and Bunny took turns going over the words I wrote out in pencil), we discussed some of the most notable Christmas traditions of that country. Although we only technically learned about four countries this year, I threw in a bonus question about England, since we’ve been reading A Christmas Carol, and we’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what a traditional English Christmas is like.

Because we did finish A Christmas Carol today, we also got to watch my favorite version of the movie–The Muppet Christmas Carol. I know, I know…the Muppets? And yet, the movie is strangely true to the book, the music is great, plus…well, it’s the Muppets! What’s not to love? I have a few other versions recorded on the DVR that I hope to get to as well, but I had to make sure we saw our favorite, as a reward for us having read the whole book!

I’m always sad when Christmas school ends. So much effort goes into the planning and implementation, starting way back in the summer when I start thinking about which resources I’m going to use, and which I’d like to get, and then the big rush in November and December of choosing crafts, planning field trips, picking which stories to read on which day, deciding which craft goes best with the stories, and figuring out how to break apart our big read-alouds. It should come as no surprise that between school and regular Christmas need-to-dos, I spend much of December completely exhausted! But it’s a good kind of exhaustion, and I wouldn’t trade making these special memories and building holiday traditions for anything!

Merry Christmas everyone!